Today, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP (AL NAACP) and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) submitted written testimony in opposition to H.B. 312 in Alabama. The expansive anti-truth bill (H.B. 312) is likely to cause confusion, chill speech, and undermine inclusive education in Alabama’s classrooms. H.B. 312 would prohibit K-12 schools from teaching or training on, as well as prohibit higher education institutions from requiring assent to, a wide range of topics which are vaguely labeled as “divisive concepts.” These concepts are described using unclear language that may make it difficult for educators to know whether they are in compliance with the law. Educators who fear violating the law may completely abandon certain topics – many of which are vital to a full and accurate understanding of American and Alabamian history and participation in a multi-racial democracy. Most concerningly, H.B. 312 may undermine inclusive educational approaches that have been shown to boost all students’ academic performance and reduce the likelihood of school-based discrimination.
The Alabama legislature held a public hearing on the bill today at 3 pm. At the hearing, Bernard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP delivered remarks highlighting the problematic nature of the bill. Below is an excerpt from President Simelton’s testimony on behalf of AL NAACP and LDF:
“All Alabama students need and deserve a quality education that reflects the lived experiences of the diverse communities they come from and the rich history of the state. H.B. 312 could undermine the quality of Alabama’s education and may negatively impact students of color and other students enrolled in public schools. Teaching practices rooted in accuracy and inclusivity do not promote or advocate support of racial hierarchies or discrimination on the basis of race, sex or other protected classes. To the contrary, such educational frameworks instead encourage honest, candid conversations about this nation’s history.”
Read the full written testimony here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.
The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP is the statewide affiliation of the National NAACP. The mission of both organizations is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race. Among the Alabama NAACP’s objectives is to advocate for equitable education for Black students and all students in Alabama.